November 2017: In a Nutshell

Good Morning, everyone! I can’t believe that today is the last day of November and Christmas (and a whole new year!) are right around the corner! Like every Holiday season, I know the next few weeks are going to be pretty hectic and crazy- but I’m looking forward to spending some more time with my family and friends doing all sorts of fun, festive things during one of the prettiest times of the year here in New England- right up until 2018 arrives!

But I have to tip my hat to November, because this past month was pretty spectacular. A good portion of it was spent outdoors with friends taking in the late Autumn scenery at local state parks and trails- even when it was bitterly cold out (or flurrying!) at times- while the days leading up to Thanksgiving Weekend revolved around lots of cooking and baking in the kitchen and gathering around the dining room table. I mean, look at the spread my family put together this year- and this was only a portion of it!

When not hiking, stuffing my face, or working crazy amounts of overtime this past month to stay on top of the year-end caseload at my office (and to get some extra Holiday cash!)– I was watching Blondie Birdie undergo a much-needed and fabulous makeover. I’m still getting used to my new layout, and I’m still in absolute awe at how beautiful it turned out. I feel like a true professional now!

So what do I have up my sleeve for December? Well, apart from finishing up my holiday shopping and finalizing plans for New Years Eve (and early 2018- since I intend on doing some traveling right away!) I have some Christmas-inspired recipes to share, a peek into the more festive pieces in my wardrobe, and a look at some of my favorite local Holiday hot-spots I like to visit every year. I’m also thinking of coming up with a little gift-guide for those last minute shoppers who need some inspiration to make it to that home stretch- so stay tuned!

Enjoy the rest of your week, everyone! I’ll be back next Monday with one of my favorite recipes for the most divine hot chocolate you’ll ever drink!

 

xx

– Ashley –

Advertisements

Favorites: November 2017!

Good Morning and Happy Wednesday, everyone! Is it the weekend yet? It’s been so unbelievably busy at work these past couple of days that I’m really just looking forward to a lazy Saturday afternoon where I can stay in my pajamas, sip come cocoa, listen to some Christmas music and get a bit of my holiday shopping done online without having to leave the comfort of my bed.

I figure I just have to tough it out through Friday and then I’m free to be as unapologetically unproductive as I want- and with December just a couple of days away- I thought now was a good time to share some of the things I really loved this past month before I get too sidetracked in my office (or fall asleep under my desk!)

My overall reflection of this November will be up tomorrow morning- but here are the products, entertainment, and odds & ends that made this month even better!

Although I didn’t participate in the 12:01 a.m. “Doorbuster” Black Friday pandemonium- that doesn’t mean I didn’t go out later on in the afternoon to pick up a couple of things. While most of my shopping was for my loved ones- I also squeezed in just a tiny splurge for myself, too- specifically by stocking up on huge bottles of my favorite shampoo and conditioning treatment by Loma Hair Care at my usual salon.

Ever since I went blonde, I’ve had to take extra special care of my curls to make sure they stay hydrated and strong. This is the stuff my stylist uses on me when I pop by for treatments and touch-ups- and it works wonderfully! My hair is always silky smooth and shiny after every use.

Best of all? It smells amazing!

Speaking of smelling amazing: I always try to set the seasonal mood with candles around my place- switching things up every few months- but this cocoa-scented one from Bath & Body Works might be the most delicious, mouthwatering and festive one I’ve found yet!

I bought multiple jars of this hot chocolate and whipped cream candle because it smells like the real deal and I think these would make incredible gifts- but I even feel warmer having it burning near me. It’s that convincing!

Fenty Beauty makes another appearance on one of my monthly Favorites lists- this time with two products! The first is the universally flattering, long-lasting and moisturizing ‘Gloss Bomb’ Lip Gloss- which makes my lips look plumper and smoother while giving me some much-needed, subtle color.

The second is the lightest shade of the ‘Pro Filt’r’ Matte Foundation- which matches my skin tone PERFECTLY. There’s no weird, orange tint after it dries or uneven coverage. This stuff blends in flawlessly and stays in place all day until it’s time for me to wash it off at the end of the night. I’ve never felt so confident and comfortable wearing a moderate-to-full coverage foundation before- but I swear by this.

I bow down to Rihanna for these! Thank you, Queen!

And lastly for the photogenic items/products- one of my guilty snacking pleasures this past month came courtesy of Trader Joe’s (so I really shouldn’t feel guilty about enjoying these as much as I do!) These chocolate-covered marshmallows are so, so good- and I’m embarrassed to admit how many boxes I’ve gone through- especially during the holidays when they seemed to just appear in my kitchen over and over!

If anyone is looking for a Christmas present for me and is thinking buying these in bulk sounds like a good idea- I won’t complain!

Moving onto some of the other things I loved this month that I couldn’t quite snap photos of so easily…

– MUSIC/MOVIES/TELEVISION –

“The Punisher” – When Netflix announced they were going to not only increase my monthly billing fee, but were also pulling the plug on streaming a ton of shows I enjoy within the coming months- I opted to cancel my subscription having binge-watched the latest episodes of some of their original series, first. I figure when it’s time to catch up on a new season of ‘Stranger Things’- I’ll re-join for a month or so. Until then, there’s no sense in continuing to pay for something I’ll rarely use.

But first, I wanted to take in Jon Bernthal’s version of Frank Castle in the new season of ‘The Punisher’- and I’m glad I did- because it’s an incredible combination of drama, action and suspense. Bernthal is so unbelievably talented- and I’m glad he was chosen for the role following what felt like his far-too-premature departure from ‘The Walking Dead’.

– GAMES/APPS –

“The Hallmark Christmas Movie Drinking Game” – Have you all seen THIS? It’s been making the rounds in my office over the past couple of days and it’s pretty brilliant. I have a feeling my girlfriends and I are going to be attempting this when we have our weekly dinner/movie night.

If you read about me dying from alcohol poisoning anytime soon- you’ll know I died doing what I loved- watching bad movies.

Alright everyone- I think that’s it for my November Favorites. There’s a few things that I thought about putting on this month’s assortment of items- but I have a feeling they’ll carry over into December.

Enjoy the rest of your day!

xx

– Ashley –

October 2017: In a Nutshell

The cupcakes I made for work today. The fingers- made out of sugar- are edible!

Good Morning, everybody- and Happy Halloween! Despite an unusual past 24 hours- which saw a freak storm roll through Massachusetts and down trees, power lines, and cause major power outages across the state- it’s one of my favorite holidays and I’m already having a great time. We’re having a themed party (complete with costumes, decorations, and snacks!) at work today- and then tonight I’ll be taking my niece Trick-Or-Treating before we sit down to watch some classic horror movies and enjoy a pizza- my favorite tradition when Halloween falls on a weekday.

It goes without saying that October is probably my most adored month out of the whole year- and this past October was definitely one to remember. I spent a lot of time with my friends visiting new (as well as longtime favorite) haunted-and-horror-themed attractions around the New England area- like the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular at Roger Williams Park Zoo, the annual Rock & Shock Convention in Worcester- and checking out a double-feature screening of Friday the 13th movies ON Friday the 13th! I also got to share some more of my favorite seasonal recipes and show off a couple of treasured, “spooky” pieces from my wardrobe.

This past weekend, I was able to finally unveil one of two Halloween costumes I prepared for this year (I’ll be able to show the second one a little later this week after I get some photos in it today!) at my friend Alyssa’s annual Halloween bash where I got to catch up with some old friends for the first time since the Summer. I went as Georgie from “IT”, including the post-Pennywise-inflicted wound and the S.S. Georgie in my other hand. I didn’t expect it to be as big of a hit as it was- but everyone seemed to really, really love it- which made me happy.

And although I had originally made plans to go camping/”glam”ping as well as visit the real town of Sleepy Hollow this past month- my friends’ schedules, and my own schedule- made actually being able to put those plans into motion a little difficult. I’m not fretting too much about it, though- since there’s always November (or December- weather permitting!)– and I had a lot of impromptu fun regardless!

Why was my schedule a little tricky to maneuver around? Well- the big, work-related news from this past month is that I got promoted at my job! I start with a new team in a new area of the company beginning next week- and I’m so excited to get started! I’ve put everything I have into my career, and it’s so thrilling to see my hard work pay off as I advance myself. I’m truly grateful and appreciative and eager to continue challenging myself as I set new goals to work towards.

So, what do I have planned in November (apart from moving my office?)– well, I’ve got a few Thanksgiving recipes to share, some travel days ahead of me before I get too preoccupied with the impending holidays, some colder-weather ensembles I’ve put together to pose in and some miscellaneous reviews of various products I’m putting together to post up here on Blondie Birdie.

But before I jump into that- it’s time to party!

Have a safe and kick-ass Halloween, everyone! I can’t wait to see all of your costumes!

xx

– Ashley –

Favorites: October 2017!

Is it Monday again already? Ew. This past weekend sure flew by quickly! The bright side (there’s always a bright side) is that tomorrow is Halloween, of course- which means we all still have a couple of days left to squeeze in some last minute scares and sweets before we hang up our costumes and usher in November and the impending Holiday Season. I’m a bit overwhelmed just thinking about it already!

Before that, though- I wanted to share some of my favorite products/items/miscellaneous odds and ends that helped to make October the fabulous fright-fest that it was. Most of the things that made the list are silly finds I picked up along the way these past few weeks, while others are some my favorite kinds of entertainment- but all of it holds a special place in my heart when I look back on October of 2017.

Up first are the things I was able to photograph in one place!

A couple of weeks ago, while at the Rock and Shock Horror Convention in my hometown- I picked up one of these ‘Stranger Things’-inspired natural soaps from the booth that had been set up for Fiona’s Fright Soap. This bar in particular smells like a pretty amazing combination of pancakes and maple syrup- and with the second season of ‘Stranger Things’ premiering on Netflix a few days ago (spoiler alert: it’s awesome so far)– it felt like an appropriate time to start using it.

The soap not only makes me smell like a delicious breakfast- but it makes my skin feel really soft and smooth, too. I know this was a limited edition product but I’m hoping Fiona’s eventually makes it a regular item so I can order more of them!

One of my girlfriends, Stef, recently got into canning goods/food with her fiancé- and she’s been kind enough to give me enough food to get me through the zombie apocalypse every time we hang out. Her most recent concoction- and probably my favorite- is this vanilla & whiskey infused apple sauce. She makes it from scratch, air-seals it so it doesn’t go bad- and passes it around like Halloween candy- and it’s AMAZING. It tastes like apple pie filling with a little bit of a boozy kick.

I’ve been hounding Stef for the recipe so I can put it up here for everyone to enjoy. That’s a foodie post I’m really, really going to like putting together!

Speaking of food and sweets- one of my favorite things about Halloween is cooking/baking some seriously macabre snacks for my friends and co-workers. I’ve been loving these edible cupcake/cake toppers from Wilton. They make everything so much more funny- and I REALLY love seeing people’s reactions when they realize that they’re edible and bite into them for the first time. It’s priceless.

I’ll be turning to them when I start baking for next Halloween, too! (Side Note: I love the little edible hatchets you can buy as cupcake toppers. A little bit of red icing and you’ve got a sweet, delicious murder-themed dessert!)

With all of my Halloween stuff going on this past month, it was easy to neglect my nails sometimes. Thankfully, Saks Fifth Avenue had my back- and were nice enough to ship this milk chocolate-inspired shade of nail lacquer from Smith and Cult to me. The color (called “Tenderoni”)– which has quickly become my signature hue on my nails, eyes and lips- is going to be perfect for the remainder of the Fall through the Winter.

It’s smooth, long-lasting, and I’ll be posting a swatch of it soon on Instagram!

Finally, this was another find at the Rock and Shock Convention that I’m completely in love with! I’ve been wearing this Ouija pendant necklace non-stop since I got it- since it’s not only seasonally appropriate- but it looks pretty damned cool, too. I’ve gotten a lot of compliments from people who have leaned in close enough to get a good look at it- and I’m thinking I may keep on wearing it even after Halloween is over!

And that is everything I was able to photograph for my October favorites.

Of course, some other things made the list, too!

– MUSIC/MOVIES/TELEVISION –

“The Walking Dead” – OOOOOH, IT’S BACK, BABY- AND IT FEELS SO GOOD. Although we’re only a couple of episodes into the eighth season of my number one obsession- the pace of the show has been incredible. Rick Grimes is straight up murdering people. Daryl looks like he actually showered for once. Carol remains my flawless Queen- and Ezekiel still won’t break character. It’s everything I hoped for and more and I’m praying this season makes up for all the heartbreak viewers experienced around this time last year!

“Broad City” – On the opposite end of the spectrum, one of my favorite comedies is back and I couldn’t be happier. One of the things I love most (and there’s a lot I love about it) about “Broad City” is that it focuses on common issues for women everywhere- but it does it in a funny, and often touching or poignant way. The most recent episode, where Ilana admits she’s having trouble finding sexual gratification since Election Night while Abbi comes to terms with aging after finding her first grey hair- was some of the best writing I’ve ever seen on the show. I want to be BFFs with those girls.

– GAMES/APPS –

“South Park: The Fractured, But Whole” – I’m a longtime ‘South Park’ fan (it’s social commentary is spot. on.) and the last game that came out, “The Stick of Truth” is one of my favorites. While “Stick of Truth” was like a ‘Lord of The Rings’ parody- “The Fractured, But Whole” is geared towards making fun of the successful string of superhero movies that have come out in recent years. Featuring more predominant characters in the latest seasons- my friends and I have been pretty much dying laughing while we take turns playing this at get-togethers. It’s a riot- and really, really fun!

And I think that’s everything for the month of October. Most of it was Halloween and Horror-related, sure- but it’s the one time of year where it’s universally appropriate! I’m sure I’ll come back around to less gory and scary things come November.

Try to enjoy your Monday, everyone! I’ll be back tomorrow to talk about October 2017 overall before we pass out some candy and kiss this month goodbye!

xx

– Ashley –

September 2017: In a Nutshell

It’s starting! 9/28/17

Well Good Morning! It feels like it’s been ages since I’ve posted on a weekend- but here we are! I’m getting ready to go enjoy this grey, breezy, not-quite-rainy morning at a pumpkin patch- right after I get my roots touched up with a long overdue visit with my stylist, Barbara.

It feels like September only just started- and a part of me is sad to see it go since I had such a wonderful time these past few weeks- but I’m also really excited to dive into October because it is- without question- my favorite month of the year. The weather is perfect. the foliage reaches peak prettiness, “The Walking Dead” comes back, and the absolute best holiday of them all arrives. I’m talking about Halloween, of course!

But before I practically back-flip into October in my state of elation- I have to tip my hat (or in this case, beanie) to September. I started the very beginning of the month with an extended weekend getaway in one of the most beautiful parts of Vermont- which set the pace for what was to come in the following weeks. Since then, I visited Salem right before it gets crazy with all the Halloween-related events and attractions, spent time with friends I hadn’t seen in ages at my friend’s breathtaking wedding in our hometown, got my “Game of Thrones” on at King Richard’s Faire for the very first time- and last weekend I took an impromptu trip to NYC to attend the Global Citizens Festival- where I got to spend time in and around Central Park with one of my best friends and catch sets from The Killers, The Lumineers, Green Day and Stevie Wonder!

It was incredible. I had such a good time.

So what do I have planned for October? A possible camping trip, plenty of scary shenanigans for Friday the 13th, a weekend at the annual horror movie convention in my hometown, more recipes and OOTDs to share- and I may be heading to a more peaceful section of New York to visit the real Sleepy Hollow for a few days- just in time for Halloween! October has always been a really busy month for me, so I’m excited to bring all the adventure to Blondie Birdie.

But Fall is in full-swing- and if you need any inspiration to get into the spirit of the season, I’ve got a couple of helpful links to get you started!

And I think that’s it for me today and for this fantastic month of September.

Enjoy your weekend and I’ll see you in October, everyone!

xx

– Ashley –

Favorites: September 2017!

Good Morning and Happy Friday, everyone! This past week has been so insanely busy that I just can’t wait until 4:30 p.m. when I can leave my office for the day, head over to my mom’s house with my older brothers, sisters-in-law, and my niece to have our big bi-weekly family meal together- and get ready for a nice, relaxing weekend- which will include a few laid-back Autumn activities, of course!

Although my look back on the overall month of September will be up tomorrow morning (my “In a Nutshell” posts always get published on the last day of each month!)– I wanted to share some of my favorite products, entertainment, and miscellaneous odds and ends that I really enjoyed these past few weeks. Yes, there are a few pumpkin-related things on the list- this is me we’re talking about, after all- but there’s some other good stuff, too!

First up- here are some of the products/items/splurges that made September even more fun for me!

It should come as no surprise- since it’s been all over Blondie Birdie and my social media accounts since I purchased it near the beginning of this month- that my brown faux-leather, cross-body saddlebag from Old Navy has quickly become one of my favorite Fall accessories. I carry it with me everywhere, it matches pretty much everything in my wardrobe this season (I wear a lot of browns, reds and golds this time of year!)– and it holds the essentials. Also- it has a pretty cute tassel on it that gives it a little bit of character and is nearly identical to ones on a pair of moccasins I’ve been sporting lately.

As a lover of both Bath & Body Works AND enjoying a glass of wine in my bathtub from time to time- I was really excited that the brand recently announced that they were getting in on the bath bomb craze that Lush has pretty much had in the bag for years. That’s not to say I don’t love Lush and their products (they’re one of my favorites!) but B&BW’s “Bath Fizzies” are a little less expensive than Bath Bombs but are just as great. I’ve been loving their Pumpkin Cupcake-scented one lately (and you bet I buy these things in bulk!) because not only does it make my skin and hair smell like a pumpkin spice and vanilla cake- but it moisturizes and conditions, too.

Plus, they’re just so much fun to throw in the tub and watch it change the water different colors!

Keeping up with great products from Bath & Body Works- how incredible are their candles? Although they don’t last as long as, say- Yankee Candle products- they always smell AMAZING and can fill an entire room with the most unique (and sometimes mouthwatering) fragrances. “Leaves” is one of my favorites this time of year- because it’s just a fantastic combination of apple, cinnamon, spices and clove. If you could bottle all of the best things about Fall in one jar- “Leaves” would be it. I always pick up more than one when I go shopping to keep in my kitchen, my bathroom, my bedroom, etc.

When Rihanna first began teasing the launch of her new makeup line- Fenty– earlier this month- I wasn’t sure what to expect. There have been some celebrity-backed brands in the past that have left myself and plenty of other people disappointed (I still don’t get the obsession with the Kylie Jenner stuff, honestly- but maybe that’s just me!)– but the first reviews were overwhelmingly positive and it looked like Rihanna had approved an impressively wide range of shades and colors for a multitude of different skin tones and complexions. I caved and picked up a couple of things- and I’m so glad I did because I have been loving the results!

This “GIRL NEXT DOOR/CHIC PHREAK” Killawatt highlighter is giving me life right now- and makes me glow and sparkle even on the days when I’m exhausted. I wear it on my lids, my cheeks, and as a contour to freshen my face up for work and after-hours. Best of all? It’s reasonably priced. No more buyer’s remorse for overpriced products that don’t work!

Finally- has there ever been a shirt that sums me up so well? This soft cotton jersey-esque top was an impulse buy a couple of weeks ago and has been giving me, my friends and co-workers a good laugh whenever I wear it out and about. I’m actually planning on sporting it this weekend when I make a planned trip to a pumpkin patch outside of the city- because why not, right? Keep an eye out for it on my social media!

And I think that’s it for the products I really enjoyed throughout September- but there’s a few other things that made my Favorites List, too!

– MUSIC/MOVIES/TELEVISION –

“It” – I remember when I was a kid, my dad read this Stephen King novel cover to cover- only to have nightmares for a few days after he’d finished it. Something being that scary to temporarily traumatize the bravest man I knew was unheard of- so naturally when I was old enough to watch the 1990 mini-series- I went into it expecting the worst- only to be left… Well, not that scared. At all (sorry, Tim Curry! I still love you!) Since then, I’ve read the novel- and although I’m not a particular fan of remakes or the re-imagining of original stories- I always felt like “It’ deserved the Hollywood treatment to really make it worthy of the hype that has surrounded it for so many years.

Well, earlier this month- it got just that. I’ve seen “It” twice in theaters now and I absolutely love it. It’s scary, funny, sad, and- at times- sweet. It’s also perfectly cast. It’s impossible NOT to become emotionally invested in each of the characters. I can’t wait for the sequel in 2019- and I’m already dedicating my Halloween costume this year to the most terrifying scene in the book- and the movie!

The Killers – “Wonderful Wonderful” – It’s been five years since The Killers dropped ‘Battle Born’ on us- so having a brand new album this month felt like getting a surprise visit from old friends for the first time in a long time. I adore this band- always have, always will- and I’ve been listening to WW on heavy rotation since it’s release last week (I also caught a snippet of their set in NYC last weekend- which I’ll get into during my post tomorrow!) It’s a great assortment of head-bopping, sing-along “fun” songs and those pretty, uplifting kinda’-sorta’ballads these boys seem to like so much.

Their upcoming tour should be a lot of fun.

And I think that’s it for my September Favorites. Just a small collection of things I’ve been enjoying over the past few weeks. I’m sure I’ll have plenty more things to share in October!

Enjoy your Friday, everybody!

xx

– Ashley –

August 2017: In a Nutshell

The accuracy.

I am the shameless and quintessential Autumn Enthusiast, or “Basic Bitch” as it’s more commonly referred to whenever September/October roll around. Pumpkin Spice? ALL THE THINGS. Ugg boots? Mandatory and comfortable (and okay, yes- a little hideous looking). Sweaters and scarves? Can’t get enough of them. Apple picking and football? Every weekend, baby! Long drives to look at the changing foliage? Hop in! I made us a Fall-inspired playlist to listen to along the way! Halloween? It’s better than Christmas!

You get the idea.

I am all about Fall- but I’ve got to give a proper send-off to August- the last month of what has been an incredible Summer. I knew things were going to be great when my best friend Sean returned home to Boston at the very end of July after a month-long stay in Spain- and sure enough we’ve spent the better part of the past few weeks at the beach soaking up the sun with our friends. When I needed a break from being covered in sand and saltwater- I had also managed to squeeze in a quick (and rain-filled) hiking trip to the White Mountains, a stifling hot afternoon at Six Flags, and caught a live WWE house show in my hometown for the first time since I was about 11. I’m not even going to try and play it cool- I had so much fun and got really into it- and that was even before my friend’s Summer Slam party a couple of weeks ago where I successfully managed to pull off baking a wrestling ring cake!

Balor Club – Boston (8/27/17)

I stood up against hate speech with 20,000+ of Boston’s best, sat through a solar eclipse, cooked up some really tasty recipes and got to hang out and catch-up with old friends I hadn’t seen in a long time now that all of our work and/or vacation schedules seemed to have finally settled down- a trend I hope continues throughout September, too!

So what’s in store for next month? Well, I’m kicking off Labor Day Weekend with an overnight stay at an (allegedly) haunted inn up in the mountains of Vermont because I’m already in Halloween Mode- and a trip to NYC I had initially planned for August had to be postponed for this coming month instead due to a scheduling conflict- so I’m pretty excited to finally head back out there for a day or two! I’ll be attending a couple of early Fall weddings, preparing some of my favorite Autumn-inspired dishes- and sharing plenty of my chillier weather wardrobe staples in the coming days.

And who knows- maybe there will be a couple of other surprises, too!

So here’s to what was undoubtedly an awesome Summer of 2017- and to hoping that Fall is just as fun!

Enjoy your weekend, everyone!

xx

– Ashley –